Two years after Hurricane Harvey swept through the Greater Houston area in August 2017, the number of homes sold is rising in some areas of Cy-Fair, even within some communities hit hardest by flooding.
Total home sales in the north Cypress market area—which includes the parts of Cypress along Cypress Creek that saw the worst flooding during Harvey—have increased since 2017, according to the Texas A&M Real Estate Institute. A total of 546 homes were sold in the first four months of 2017. That number rose to 561 after Harvey in 2018 and 612 in 2019.
Residents looking to move after experiencing flood damage in their homes typically choose to either fix and sell the houses themselves or sell their damaged properties to investors, who will then remodel and sell the homes, said Pedro Rodriguez, a Cy-Fair-area real estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene.
“The current housing market is just as good as it was before the storm hit,” Rodriguez said.
When a house floods, the typical metrics used to assess home values cannot properly deal with the new variables at play—which part of the house flooded, how high the flood waters got and the extent to which the house was remediated—said Paige Martin, a broker associate with Keller Williams Realty.
For this reason, companies and buyers alike tend to shy away from flood-stricken properties, Martin said.
“With the memory of Harvey and recent flooding still fresh, buyers are generally more wary and more informed about the risks of buying properties in flood-prone areas,” Martin said.
Throughout Cypress, the median price of homes sold rose 2% from 2018-19, but median land values decreased from $30 to $21 per square foot, Martin said. In specific pockets that flooded, average prices have seen decreases, and there have been more homes that have come on the market and not sold, she said. In communities along Cypress Creek such as Norchester and Lakewood Crossing, home sales dropped in 2017 but rebounded in 2018, surpassing sales totals from before the storm.
More houses in flood-prone communities are also being converted to rentals, Rodriguez said. When investors acquire a flood-damaged home, their first attempt after a remodel is to sell it. If this is not possible, their next step is to rent it out, he said.
In Norchester, more than 400 of the 720 homes flooded during Harvey, said Cathy Dunn, president of the Norchester Homeowners Association’s board of directors.
Even though Norchester was hit hard, Rodriguez said there has been no real slowdown in the housing market due to the hurricane.
A total of 48 Norchester properties have transferred hands this calendar year, 37 of which went to new families as opposed to investors, Dunn said. About a quarter of these homes were bought out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will be demolished, she said.
For those who made it through the worst of the hurricane damage in Norchester, many of their homes have since been remodeled with upgrades, Dunn said. Her own home has been remodeled after damage from Harvey and the 2016 Tax Day flood.
Dunn said the hurricane helped bring the community—which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding this year—together.
“Harvey was probably the worst thing that ever happened to the subdivision and also the best,” she said. “The people who are here, we are committed to making [this neighborhood] even better than it was before.”